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Consumer rights on lawmakers' agenda

2013-04-24 09:46 Global Times     Web Editor: Wang YuXia comment

China's consumer rights law, which took effect in January 1994, is expected to be amended for the first time during the three-day session of the country's top legislature, which started on Tuesday.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) noted the amendment aims to better protect consumers' rights and interests and boost their confidence.

The Xinhua News Agency said the law has contributed greatly to protecting consumers' rights and regulating businesses.

However, Qiu Baochang, president of the legal panel of the China Consumers' Association, told the Global Times that the law is now not powerful enough to effectively protect consumers, due to great changes have been seen in the country's consumption pattern, buying habits and concepts over the past two decades.

The amendments, according to the NPC's website, will strengthen consumers' right to return and exchange a product, allowing them to unconditionally claim a refund within seven days of making a purchase.

"This regulation would protect consumers' right when purchasing goods online, as customers can't see the goods in person and the goods may not be exactly like the online description promoted by the business owners," Qiu said.

Qiu added that amendments call for the strengthening of the supervisory role of the consumers' associations, allowing them to represent consumers in court.

The amendments will also clarify the protection of personal information and combat commercial fraud, which will be subject to a fine equivalent to twice the value of goods or services, with a minimum of 500 yuan ($73.53), Qiu added.

Lawmakers at the session will also continue their third round of deliberation over the drafted tourism law, which has been on their agenda since August 2012.

Wei Xiaoan, secretary general of the China Tourism Leisure Association, told the Global Times Tuesday that the country might have its first specific tourism law, which will likely result in huge improvements to the country's tourism industry.

"Such a law is urgently needed to regulate the tourism industry, in an effort to ensure its healthy and sustainable development," Wei said, adding that as the world's largest market in terms of domestic travel, the country is still managing its tourism sector with only some administrative rules attempting to govern travel agencies.

The current situation has caused a number of problems, such as unfair competition and random increases of ticket price of some scenic spots, Wei added.

The draft law also requires scenic spots to hold public hearings before they can raise admission fees.

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